Buddhaland Brooklyn by Richard C Morais
A Novel

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Synopsis

“The life of a man is like a ball in the river— no matter what our will wants or desires, we are swept along by an invisible current that finally delivers us to the limitless expanse of the black sea.”

So reflects the elderly Buddhist priest Seido Oda as he considers the life that brought him from an idyllic mountainside village in Japan to the bustling streets of Brooklyn, New York— a touching and humorous journey richly depicted in Buddhaland Brooklyn.

Oda’s boyhood is spent fishing in clear mountain streams, picking plums, and helping his parents run the family’s village inn on the slopes of Mount Nagata. But at age eleven, his parents hand him over to the monks at the nearby Buddhist monastery. Separated from his family and deeply lonely, the acolyte adjusts to monastic life by devoting himself to painting, poetry, and prayer—and avoiding human contact. This safe and quiet existence is unexpectedly upended, however, when he reaches middle age and is ordered by his superior to open a temple in Brooklyn.

New York is a shock to the introverted Oda. A shy, socially inept Japanese priest who hides his true feelings behind a severe manner, Reverend Oda must spiritually lead the ragtag army of eccentric New Yorkers who make up the local Buddhist community. This motley crew and their misguided practices provide for a host of hilarious cultural misunderstandings and mishaps. But when tragedy strikes, Oda’s rigid worldview is shattered and his eyes are finally opened to the long-buried sadness and personal shortcomings in his own life. It is only when he comes to appreciate the Americans, flaws and all, that Oda finds in Brooklyn the home he has always sought.

A lively, vivid novel, Buddhaland Brooklyn stirs from the very first page. This is an entertaining and edifying meditation on the meaning and rewards of true acceptance.
 

About Richard C Morais

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Richard C. Morais, author of The Hundred-Foot Journey, is a contributing editor at Barron’s in New York. An American raised in Switzerland, he was stationed in London for eighteen years, where he was Forbes’s European Bureau Chief.
 
Published July 17, 2012 by Scribner. 256 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Buddhaland Brooklyn

Kirkus Reviews

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Once there, Oda comes in contact with a very American form of Buddhism, one in which he’s casually referred to as “Rev” or “the Reverend O.” Oda understandably has difficulty adapting to the exigencies of his new life.

Jul 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Morais’s latest (after The Hundred-Foot Journey) follows Seido, a Japanese Buddhist priest whose attachment to ritual fortifies him against the heartbreak of his youth: days after his induction into the priesthood, at age 11, his family was killed in a fire.

May 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel

AV Club

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Morais’ presentation is admirable—he crafts flowery, easy-to-follow dreamlike passages as Oda gradually finds his place in the bustling metropolis—but it’s a toothless portrait of a religious man coming to terms with tragedy and making his own way in the world.

Aug 20 2012 | Read Full Review of Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel

Washington Independent Review of Books

“The life of a man is like a ball in the river, the Buddhist texts state — no matter what our will wants or desires we are swept along by an invisible current that finally delivers us to the limitless expanse of the black sea.” So says the narrator of Buddhaland Brooklyn, the Buddhist priest Seid...

| Read Full Review of Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel

After living his entire life in a remote mountain village in Japan, Buddhist monk Seido Oda experiences extreme culture shock when, at the age of 40, he is commanded by his superior to open a temple in Brooklyn. This novel, written as a fictional memoir, is similar in tone to Morais's 2008 debut,...

Apr 15 2013 | Read Full Review of Buddhaland Brooklyn: A Novel

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